Leechtime

Albert Belisle Davis, Author Louisiana State University Press $19.95 (196p) ISBN 978-0-8071-1494-0
Cajun may be in, but there is good Cajun and bad Cajun. This novel, focusing on a single anticlimactic, soap operatic day, is of the latter variety. The contrived plot features the ramblings of Calin, a blind, elderly oysterman holed up in a shack by the Bayou Grand Caillou--as recorded, underhandedly, by a younger man who seeks to make his fortune by publishing Calin's oral history without his knowledge. The stories that result from this unlikely collaboration, called entrelacs noires , or ``black knots within knots,'' are filled with old ladies casting spells and superstitious he-men, drinking, brawling, seeking vengeance, bonding with their buddies and loving their women with primitive passion. The tales are also marred by mawkish mysteries and lacunae (where does Calin vanish every spring, and what becomes of his amanuensis?) Sections presented in the voices of different characters sound nearly identical. The novel, which won first prize in the Deep South Writers Conference competition, could have made a charming 30-page fable, but in this form, it casts no spell. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
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